Summit Day on Ixta

Posted by: | January 14, 2009
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mexico
Elevation: 17,154 ft.

Dave called from high camp on Ixta at 8:30 a.m. PST. The group reached the summit today and all is well. They are now back at the hut on Ixta after a seven hour round trip climb. Later today they will pack up and descend to the trailhead. They will relax tonight in Puebla and enjoy a rest day tomorrow before heading to Orizaba. The party is very strong and everyone is doing well.

Dispatch received from Dave via email

The alarm on our watch began to beep, letting us know it was time to awake from a restless night’s sleep. Out of our toasty sleeping bags and into the cold night high on Ixta we began preparation to climb. An unusual cold snap has embraced this part of Mexico and nipped at our bodies as we started to approach the Ayoloco Glacier. About an hour of hiking up loose scree and talus found our team at the tongue of what was once an impressive glacier careening down the side of the seventh highest peak in North America.

With crampons on our boots, ice axes in-hand, and ropes attaching our teams together we ascended and traversed the hard snow and ice. Our brief glacier climb brought us to the prominent ridge leading us to the summit of the “Sleeping Woman”. Aztec legend says Ixtaccihuatl was an Aztec woman who died from a broken heart. Her love, Popo, was an Aztec warrior, allegedly killed in battle. With such devastating news, Ixta ended her life. When Popo returned, he too was broken hearted and created the mountain in her memory. Today, Ixta’s profile from the West or East resembles that of a sleeping woman, Ixta, with her feet, knees, breast, and head defined by ridges and rocky peaks.

Our teamed climbed strong and efficiently, reaching the summit in just under 4 hours. We were graced with a brief clearing while on top as we endured the colder temperatures. We won’t mention any names (cough, cough…Collin and Marty) but some went bareskin on top for a priceless photo opportunity!

The descent was again well climbed by our team and we reached our high camp in under 3 hours. We hung out at camp watching the clouds roll up and down the slope below us, next to us, and above us. We packed our packs to the brim for the hike down to our wonderful chauffeurs, Regolio and Guiermo. Awaiting us were incredible Mexican tortas, a typical sandwich with meat, cheese, tomatoes, onions, avocados, and mayo- delicious! Of course there was celebratory libations provided to wash down the tasty meal.

Overall, our team did extremely well climbing our first objective, Ixta. This climb can definitely pose challenges in that it is very high in altitude, soon after our arrival to Mexico, and we have to establish a higher camp. We are now resting surrounded by wonderful people, incredible cuisine, and amazing culture here in Puebla.



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